Scottish Poetry News: December 2018

This month features a bumper Christmas bash from two of Scotland's top literary outfits, plus plenty of opportunity to discover some new voices before 2018 ends

Feature by Beth Cochrane | 03 Dec 2018
  • Margaret Atwood

The big one for your Christmas diary of poetry events (of course, we all have one) is Neu! Reekie! and 404 Ink presenting The Big Ten For Christmas (Summerhall, Edinburgh, 14 Dec). With both Neu! and 404 celebrating birthdays in December, combining to make ten years of decadent literary revelry, they’ll be throwing the Christmas bash to rival the rest. The line-up includes not only the 2018 Orwell Prize winner Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey, but also hip-hop revolutionaries The Honey Farm. Sharing the stage are poets and storytellers from this year’s list of favourites: Helen McClory, Nadine Aisha Jassat and Chris McQueer. Not sold yet? Well, they’re throwing in a virtual visit from international bestselling novelist Margaret Atwood. She’ll be chatting with hosts Michael Pedersen, Kevin Williamson and the team from 404 Ink, as well as giving an exclusive reading.

Head down to Edinburgh’s Lighthouse Books on 11 December for New Voices: Poetry out of Fife (maybe go along and ask if those voices will be doing a similar event in Fife too?) The four poets – Mhairi Owens, Alexa Winik, Lily Clarke and Sean Robinson – are all recent poetry graduates from the University of St Andrews. The graduates of the MFA in Poetry course have, throughout the year, been tutored by two of St Andrew’s finest poet-lecturers: John Burnside and Don Paterson. It’s sure to be a quality night of quality poetry, and as it’s a BYOB event you can ensure your own quality booze.

Black Agnes Press is launching its first pamphlet on 1 December, in the cosy back room of The Rocks in Dunbar. The event celebrates the launch of The Weather Looks Promising, a series of poems by Jo Gibson, Ruth Gilchrist and Emma Moller. The poetry will be complemented with folk music from Karen Dietz and Richard Klein, in addition to Carey Lunan and John Hardman of Firefly Fortyfive. Tickets will be available on the door.

Last month, Iain Morrison released his debut collection, I’m a Pretty Circler. He’ll be following the release with a launch night at the Fruitmarket Gallery on 9 December. The event will feature readings from Morrison with responses from artist and movement researcher Claricia Parinussa and artist Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay. Join the artists for free at this night of poetic partying.

In Glasgow, Futurology will be presenting a brand new monthly event WordSmiths at Phillies Bar in Shawlands (6 Dec). The debut of this night is a welcome one in Glasgow’s Southside – WordSmiths will be bringing the best of Scotland’s hip-hop to the stage for new audiences and shining the proverbial spotlight on, you guessed it, wordsmiths and artists from Glasgow.

Glasgow Zine Library is hosting an informal introduction to bookbinding on 8 December. Although this is a sold out event, its popularity would indicate a second (third and fourth?) workshop should be on the cards. Zine-making is an innovative and individualistic production model, and one that proves time and again to be popular with poetry publications. This particular workshop focuses on the basics of the craft: sewing-book practise and creating a custom-made hard cover book by hand, for example. Fingers crossed this workshop will run again in the New Year, and good luck to all you soon-to-be zine makers.

In the meantime, off you go and read some Christmas poems (Candlestick Press have just released The Twelve Poems of Christmas, selected and introduced by Carol Ann Duffy), or maybe pick up a pen to write someone a festive poem – maybe they’ll even thank you for it.